Do Oil Paintings Sell For More Than Acrylics?

One of our members visited some galleries and found that there were not many acrylic paintings.  One of the gallery owners told him that acrylics are a medium for beginner painters. He asked me, "Why are there so few acrylic painters represented in galleries?" He also asked, "Do oil paintings sell for more than acrylic paintings?"

This is how I answered those questions:

Artists have been using oil paint for centuries. Acrylic paint is a newer medium but many of the best artists are still using oils. A change in perception needs to happen. 

Do oil paintings sell for more? Yes! Many of the best artists are using oil paint so they sell for more in general. But once the best artists either start or transition into using acrylics, then acrylic too will sell for more. It's really not about the medium, but rather about who is using that medium.

There are acrylic paintings that have sold for $50,000 or more because the artist was really skilled.  For example, Robert Bateman, who is a Canadian wildlife artist. His paintings have sold for a great deal of money. They were large, acrylic pieces that sold at very high prices. There are many good examples to show that pricing is correlated more to the artist than the medium. But there is a bias is that oil is the standard medium for the professional art world. Oil paints have existed for centuries, and acrylic paints are just newer. 

And since most of the art training has been done in oils most of these artists have succeeded in oils. I am thrilled that we are part of a growing community that’s changing that and offering instruction in acrylics. I love acrylic paints and am really excited when I see artists switching from oils to acrylics.  

One of my artist friends just made the switch and it's partly because he saw me working in acrylics. He has a really big museum show coming up in 2021 and he's  painting massive landscape paintings. He grew up on a farm and his paintings are based on that rural life. They are going to be very expensive paintings and it's really amazing to see him doing them in acrylic. He also was accepted into an American impressionist show with his acrylic paintings. He's won awards, sold paintings for $20,000 in oil, but he's making the switch to acrylic paints because he sees the advantages of acrylic paints and he's excited about it. I'm thrilled that an artist of his caliber is making that switch mid-career without having any reason to do it other than seeing the advantages of acrylic paints.

Jed Dorsey

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